Playing it Safe
BY Georgi Chakarov
We can all agree that television is experiencing a transition process as technology is changing the way people entertain themselves in general, and the way they consume content in particular. In this constant state of change, there are two types of players – the shakers and movers, and the lay-low, no chance-takers. The first category are the ones who have already accepted that linear TV is dead, or nearly dead. The second category are the ones who believe that television is alive and kicking.

In Central and Eastern Europe, almost all players are in the second category, with one big exception – MTG. The views of the Scandinavian giant on the future of linear TV clearly explain why it has decided to exit the region which remains focused on the strength of traditional television as the main source of entertainment and information for the population. This also explains why both are right – TV is dying and is very alive at the same. That just depends on the type of business goal, target audience and market approach.

In the case of CEE, however, (no matter what most TV people would tell you) television has now crossed into a state of non-moving. The big players are more focused on keeping the status quo (their market share) and playing it safe with the budgets. Risk is the least popular word among TV executives in the region. This is clearly reflected in their programming strategies – betting time and again on proven brands which are getting renewed season after season, after season. This year alone, we have observed the biggest amount of returning shows and most of them adapted formats. The share of locally developed projects remains quite low and mostly in the scripted field. There have been a few exceptions, like RTL in Croatia (with formats) and NTV in Russia (with original concepts), who made an effort to experiment and in most of the cases they were successful in increasing their audience proving that risk pays off. Their example, however, cannot change the overall feeling of 'not much happening in our market'.

I can hardly see this situation changing in the next couple of years and the reason for this is the general mindset of the TV managers from the region that as long as people continue to watch their channels everything is just okay. The big distributors are happy as well, as they are selling more formats than ever before in the region. Even Turkey, the big international drama exporter, is relying more and more on series based on ideas coming from Korea and Japan.

The CEE industry is just ducking and waiting for 'better times'. But what will happen if the better times never come? Will they still be where they are now?

Do MTG have the answer to these questions already?▪
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